A prayer and a request.

Some days I’m pretty resilient at the hospital. I walk out tired but grateful.

Recently I had one of the “not” days. The day wasn’t excruciating by chaplain standards. A death, a new baby, a couple of visits with people chronically ill. Encouraging conversations in the midst of hard times. The opportunity to speak graciously in difficult moments. Offering help and practical next steps.

It was the kind of day that makes you say, “It’s challenging but rewarding.”

And then.

IMG_1138.JPGAnd then we got involved in a situation that is fundamentally sad.

That’s all I can say. No details, even disguised. But I walked away from the hospital at the end of the shift at a loss.

It is so easy to begin telling a story that comes into the ER based on patterns. And then to act based on the story. Until you suddenly stop and say, “What if we have it backward?”

What’s hard to own is being part of that first story, finding that the patterns point toward bad choices. Until we think it through.

You know what I mean. We all jump to reactions before we know the data. Or even when we know the data. But my prayer as I walked out that night was, “God. Help.”


I’d love a little help from you, too. I’m teaching a course this fall about pastoral care and pastoral ministry. The students are working on masters degrees. Some are on staff at churches, some are not.

I want to build pictures of what pastoring can look like, in a good way. So what I’d love is stories from you about a moment when someone, working as a representative of Jesus, offered the kind of care that a shepherd offers a sheep.

I could explain more, I suppose. And I’m not interested in definitions from books or sermons. And I have lots of stories of exploiting sheep. I listen to them all the time, and offer apologies.

But I would like to have good specific stories.

Thank you.

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